COLUMBIA — Grant Elementary School has taken steps to protect students after a man disobeyed police at the school.
Columbia police arrested the man, Sidney Lyles, on Thursday on suspicion of trespassing, according to Columbia police reports.
He arrived at the campus and didn't cooperate with school administrators when asked why he was there, Principal Beverly Borduin said.
“I handle any incident the same way,” Borduin said, adding that because Lyles was uncooperative, the school alerted the police.
As a result, Lyles is not allowed on Grant Elementary School property, Borduin said.
Lyles previously worked as an administrative assistant at Benton Elementary School. He was fired in 2005 and subsequently sued Columbia Public Schools, claiming his termination was related to his race.
He lost the lawsuit and appealed in 2008, again without success, according to the appellate court’s decision.
Borduin sent an e-mail to Grant families Monday outlining the following safety precautions:
- All exterior doors are locked, with the exception of the doors nearest the office.
- All trailers and the EcoSchoolhouse are locked.
- Students are escorted among the trailers and EcoSchoolhouse and the main building.
- Recess continues as usual, with supervision.
- Staff members carry cell phones and walkie-talkies to alert the office in the event of an emergency.
- Police will be called immediately if Lyles is spotted.
The most inconvenient of the measures is that visitors must knock on the school’s front doors, Borduin said. But otherwise, everything has operated smoothly, she said.
“The children have handled things really well,” she said. “We tell them, ‘You lock doors at home to keep out strangers.’ And that’s what we do here. We’ve just been locking our doors.”